About Carol Bowen Ball
Carol Bowen Ball is an established food writer with over 35 years experience in the food arena. A prolific author, she has written over 90 cookery books (mainly as Carol Bowen), on a variety of subjects from barbecue to range-style cooking, and a whole lot in between. She won the ‘Cookery Book of the Year Award’ for her ground-breaking book ‘Versatile Vegetables’ when bringing vegetables to the forefront of meal planning was in its infancy.
A former Household and Cookery Editor for ‘Homes & Gardens’ magazine she has always been on the look-out for new ideas, trends and chasing the latest advice on cooking and eating well. Her long association with the media, be it television, radio, magazines, newspapers, the internet or professional journals, means she is a popular and sought-after pundit on all things relating to food. It is for these same reasons that she has worked on ‘Masterchef’; with Keith Floyd in his hey day; and as an editorial food advisor to Nanette Newman and Diana Dors on food-related projects.
Carol is an active member of the HOOP (Helping Overcome Obesity Problems) Charity: a member of the British Obesity Surgery Patient Association (BOSPA): a member of WLS Info Org, the National Obesity Forum: and the Guild of Food Writers.
RETURN TO SLENDER- A Personal Story
The interest I have in bariatric cookery didn’t come about by accident. After countless years struggling with my weight, yo-yoing between diets, I took the decision to explore weight-loss surgery. A meeting with bariatric surgeon, Shaw Somers (TV’s FAT DOCTOR), confirmed that I was a suitable candidate and a gastric bypass was recommended.
Now this wasn’t easy to take….I wasn’t a fat kid (indeed was skinny at University); have had successes (and failures) with diets so maybe there would be just another around the corner that would work for me long-term; and food is a major part of my life…it’s the way I express myself! Plus a gastric bypass is a one-way ticket, there is no turning the clock back. What I was seduced with however, was the chance to press the ‘reset’ button and have another go at getting things right. Weight-loss surgery is only a tool for that success – anyone who thinks it is a magic wand is sadly mistaken.
In my efforts to find out more about the surgery itself and eating pre and post op I explored websites, ordered books by the dozen, enrolled on forums and joined support groups. The conclusion I came to was that alright,there was a lot of advice out there, but little of it grouped in a constructive way. The biggest downfall for the patient was the lack of reliable advice and recipes geared to the UK market. Plenty for the Americans, but these had recipes that used unfamiliar and unavailable ingredients for the UK shopper; used cup and quart measures that again were confusing; and were geared and suited to the American palate. So my quest for a slimmer body quickly joined the desire to write the first UK book for weight-loss patients, it was long overdue.
I don’t believe you can write such a book unless you have travelled the weight-loss surgery journey yourself – and experienced the highs and lows of eating in a different way. Each day, after my surgery (because yes I did go ahead in November 2009), there has been a new challenge to eat wisely, cook well and nourish my body. It gets easier each day to ‘eat right with every bite’ and it is now my aim to pass on all that I have learnt and will continue to learn.
This website is a continuation of the book (now published), along with its companion follow-up one. It has food and meal plans for all stages of eating post surgery; recipes, food and preparation tips for seasonal and all-year-round eating; advice on the best products around, be they food, supplements or equipment; advice on exercise and getting moving; the latest on events of interest; a spotlight on press stories that make the headlines; and finally my blog on how I am getting on in this brave new world.
I hope you’ll join me!
A 2018 UPDATE!
2018 means I start my 9th year after a gastric bypass. What does it mean for me? Well a sustained 61/2 stone (92 lb) weight-loss which rarely changes from week to week … no more yo-yo dieting for me (I hope). I constantly strive to eat healthily and get variety into my diet and along the way have learnt so much … which I endeavour to pass on to others regardless of their pre- or post-op surgery stage. I have added a second book ‘Return 2 Slender…Second Helpings’ to my repertoire; a bariatric portion plate, which has been enthusiastically received; a bariatric bento box for food on the go; a set of measuring cups perfect for bariatrics and a portion control bariatric cutlery set to help slow down eating. I am constantly looking to expand the website to offer even more bariatric products that I think are invaluable. The website now enjoys many, many visitors from all across the globe and my FREE newsletter goes out to some 13,000+ subscribers.
And, since every picture tells a story…here is my latest!
www.bariatriccookery.com is however not about me but about the wonderful bariatric community that I have been blessed to meet online, at support groups and also in person. We are a diverse group of people but have a common bond in trying to overcome our obesity issues. We all know the surgery in most cases works extremely well but know that the work continues in adapting to a new lifestyle. I enjoy meeting you all and some of the professionals that advise us all with this life-changing surgery.
I try to anticipate the needs of those considering surgery; those who have just undergone it; and those much further down the line. If there are any recipes, features or topics you would like to be covered for the first time or in more detail, then I hope you will leave a message on the website or send me a request firstname.lastname@example.org and I will look into it.
Best wishes to all of you for 2018!
A 2019/20 UPDATE!
Bariatric or weight-loss surgery (WLS) is a life-saver, new-life-giver and game-changer as thousands of patients around the world will attest. I still, some 10 years on, feel fortunate to have been one of them and to have met so many others who have also experienced the journey.
My journey, as many of you will know, began many years ago when I simply ran out of ideas and track as to how to deal with my weight. Years of constant yo-yo dieting didn’t help but I also believed my body was in conflict with my mind about shedding its excess weight (although believe me I tried so many times to persuade it to think otherwise). The final ‘solution’ I hoped would be bariatric or weight-loss surgery. I was seduced by the opportunity for my body (and perhaps mind) to have a re-set , and have one final go at getting things right.
And so it proved … I had a gastric bypass and lost and then maintained an almost 100-lb reduction in my weight. But (and there always is a ‘but’ isn’t there?), it hasn’t been easy and I work at this every day and will undoubtedly continue to do so for the rest of my life. I am proud of my weight-loss but even prouder of my maintenance.
For whilst my previous journeys into weight-loss had been tricky, this was definitely new terrain for me to negotiate. I not only had to deal with the surgery itself but a new challenging eating regime in order to stay fit and well. Add to that the complexities of medications, new exercise regime and coping with a whole new life scenario, it has been a huge sharp learning curve. Plus, as a food writer, I needed to get to grips with cooking and selecting food in a whole new way.
Luckily along the road I had the help of an amazing Bariatric Team, supportive family and friends, new WLS friends and helpful professional contacts in the bariatric surgery field. This I believe, along with my commitment, resolve and compliance, has been the key to success.
I have learnt a great deal over that time and this website, which I set up to help others http://www.bariatriccookery.com plus the free newsletters I send out to subscribers, has given me additional professional contacts too. Through their guest posts they have unselfishly given their time and energies to not only helping me but many others on this road to recovery from obesity. Their features on subjects that are complex and specialised (which they have kindly allowed me to share with you over the years) are so valuable when as a community WLS is so poorly under-served. I hope my recipes and food advice have also proved as useful.
And so to 2019/2020 – this was the year when I wrote and published my 3rd bariatric cookery book – The Bariatric Bible.
The Bariatric Bible is an attempt to crystallise and condense all of this gleaned information – and ambitiously be the first and last world on negotiating a bariatric lifestyle – at least for now. A tall order, but I hope between us, we have covered the salient facts and also provided some inspiration for how to eat and enjoy your food after surgery.
I am constantly asked what my tips for success are, and they are many and varied, but in a nutshell I would say make food your friend not enemy. It’s just food! I know life gets in the way but make realistic plans, keep your motivation alive, don’t become phobic about certain foods groups (carbs and fats aren’t all bad), try to trash your triggers and unhealthy temptations, create a great support system, move as much as you can, be adventurous with food choice, and finally take care of yourself (which may mean practising a bit more self-care and love).
I’m with you on this and working on it for the rest of 2020 to 2021.